Thursday, December 26, 2013

Two Eamon-Related AGT Adventures

Recently, Michael Detlefsen, one of two individuals who ported Eamon to the Atari ST, has posted two Eamon-related items for the PC to the Internet Archive. Each is an AGT (Adventure Game Toolkit)-authored adventure game, playable on MS-DOS and hence (presumably) Windows. Detlefsen shepherded his Atari port by hosting it on GEnie, writing the single Eamon newsletter, and manually translating several adventures to the platform. However, Detlefsen at some point abandoned Eamon development and embraced the AGT platform.

The first is an expanded version of Evan Hodson's Quest for the Holy Grail, a riff of the Monty Python film. Holy Grail was one of the Eamons Detlefsen ported to the Atari ST; after adopting the AGT platform, he made additional enhancements to the game by adding puzzles, rewriting descriptions, and making further changes. The Misadventure of the Holy Grail, the enhanced version of Quest for the Holy Grail, can be downloaded here.

The second is a port of Detlefsen's aborted Eamon adventure The Star Portal. Detlefsen made a report on his progress in the Atari Eamon newsletter, mentioning that he has "blocked out" sixty rooms for the map, but never completed the Eamon version. After abandoning Eamon and adopting AGT, Detlefsen resumed work on Star Portal, winning an honorable mention in the Second AGT Game Contest. A review can be found here and the game itself can be downloaded here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Eamon Mapper at HackFest

KansasFest, the venerable Apple II gathering running for a quarter of a century, hosts a recurring contest called "HackFest." The winner this year was none other than Margaret Anderson, the author of four Eamons (Peg's Place, The Beginner's Forest, Treasure Island, and The Pirate's Cave), who submitted an "Eamon mapper" as her entry. While the site is not presently hosting a disk image of her winning entry, it appears that disk images of entries are posted from time to time at

Margaret Anderson also wrote an article "Mapping the Unknown: An Adventure in Eamon" about her entry in the September 2013 issue of Juiced.GS. I don't have a subscription to Juiced.GS, so I'm unable to describe the contents of the article. But I'd love to hear a synopsis in the comments (or see a disk image of Ms. Anderson's entry!).

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pat Hurst's Eamon Gazetteer

Pat Hurst, over the course of his universally highly regarded Eamon adventures, attempted to unify the details of the fictional planet Eamon, providing an coherent story concerning Eamon's geography, politics, and pantheon. The Main Hall, according to Hurst's continuity, lies in the city of Evenhold, on the coast of the Malphigian sea. Beyond his four adventuresThe Pyramid of Anharos, Buccaneer!, Grunewalde, and The Dark BrotherhoodHurst's ideas informed Mike Ellis' Well of the Great Ones (as well as A Runcible Cargo). Hurst's portrait of Eamon was made concrete by a sort of "series bible," the Eamon Gazetteer, mentioned several times in the EAG Newsletter. 

Huw Williamssuper sleuth that he iswas able to not only track down Pat Hurst, but also coaxed him into scanning a copy of the fabled Gazetteer, a copy of which may be found at Both scanned and transcribed versions are posted. It's a very entertaining read and a very rich component of Eamon history, so make sure to check it out.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Discovering Eamon for the first time

What's it like for someone to discover Eamon for the first time? Jalen Wanderer over at has come across Eamon and is considering writing a new adventure for the system. It's an interesting read for those of you who have known Eamon for years and years!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

SwordThrust Walkthrough

Chester Bolingbroke, author of the excellent blog The CRPG Addict found at, has written a couple of posts on Donald Brown's SwordThrust, the commercial successor to Eamon. The first post details the game and Bolingbroke's thoughts on it, while the second post is more detailed, and even contains some insight by the only non-Don-Brown author of SwordThrust, Peter Wityk
Bolingbroke has also written an in-depth FAQ/Walkthrough of SwordThrust. The document is very thorough, documenting the history and gameplay of the system, as well as walkthroughs and maps for all seven adventures written for it.
The document has been posted here or may be found at:.

Also, I remind the reader that in general, is worth the time of any Eamon enthusiast.
More news to come. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Conclusion of the Dr. Evil Laboratories Saga

Readers will recall a pair of posts concerning one of Eamon's cousins, the Commodore 64 text adventure system Imagery!. For those not recalling them, part one and part two will direct you to the blog of our comrades at Doctor Evil Laboratories, featuring a wonderfully written retrospective of the rise and fall of the company.
Well, I sadly missed it this last month, but the concluding chapter of our friend Kent Sullivan's history of Dr. Evil Labs went up in September. You needn't be familiar with C64 jargon to enjoy the blog posts; Kent's writing really outlines a coming of age story that only incidentally contains C64 jargon.
There isn't a concise web address for the Dr. Evil Labs blog, but you can get to the blog by clicking here and you can read the last installment here.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Eamon and the Xbox Crowd

One individual's discovery of the Beginners Cave recently led to quite a bit of amusement on Reddit a couple of days ago, making its way to the front of r/gaming and grabbing nearly a thousand comments. 
While there's a bit of salty language, it's interesting to see the Xbox generation try to get their collective head around the notion of a text adventure. I certainly enjoyed reading the comments.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

IF Comp 2013

Eamon lovers might be interested in the Interactive Fiction Competition, running until November 15th, 2013. Should be worth your time...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Another Curiosity, the "Creative Adventure Disk"

This is just a short post to throw something out in hopes that some reader or other will have information.
I stumbled upon some unusual Eamoniana (I'm coining a term here) today while going through WorldCat: the "Creative Adventure Disk," Apple II software published in 1986 by an Australian company called Select Software. It is described as:
Create your own dungeons and dragons adventure game. Compatible with Eamon series. Suitable as an educational aid.
Select Software, it appears, distributed Eamon proper before releasing this, so this is presumably not Eamon. Moreover, the system spans four disks, so it's clearly robust.
The reference can be found at WorldCat with OCLC number 225973575. No libraries seem to have a copy. If you've encountered this software, I'd love to learn more about it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Lair of the Minotaur" for Jon Walker's Eamon

A further Eamon for Jon Walker's PC Eamon has been found lurking in the internets. While PC-SIG supported Walker's ports of The Beginner's Cave, The Ice Cave, Assault on the Clone Master, and Quest for Trezore---and released Cronum's Castle and Lord of the Underland independently---it never released his port of Lair of the Minotaur. Walker's port of Lair was distributed by his "Wisconsin Software Systems"; why it wasn't picked up by PC-SIG is unknown.
David Kinder at was generous enough to fix the compressed files---updating them for modern systems---and to host this port of Lair of the Minotaur on the site as well here. He has posted Cronum and Underland to the archive as well. Hence, the Walker PC Eamon library stands at:
  1. The Main Hall/ Beginner's Cave by Donald Brown (ported by Jon Walker)
  2. The Ice Cave by Jon Walker
  3. Assault on the Clone Master  by Donald Brown (ported by Jon Walker)
  4. Quest for Trezore by Jim Jacobson (ported by Jon Walker)
  5. Cronum's Castle by Matt Ashcraft and Richard Tonsing
  6. Lord of the Underland by Justin Langseth
  7. Lair of the Minotaur by Donald Brown (ported by Jon Walker)
  8. Dungeon Designer
All of these files can be conveniently found at at the PC Eamon page. Many thanks to David Kinder for his help.
There will soon be some announcements concerning the Micro-Adventure Contest. If you haven't submitted something yet, we still welcome contributions, though the competition itself has closed.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Eamon Revolutions, Database Editor for Windows, and Contest Reminder

So Huw Williams isn't the only one making sweeping contributions to the Wonderful World of Eamon. Derek Jeter, author of the exceedingly well-crafted Stronghold of Kahr-Dur, has recently released (in alpha in one case) some great Eamon-related software.

First off is the very promising Eamon Revolutions, a web-based update of Eamon. A number of enhancements have been made by Jeter, details of which can be found at the Wonderful Wiki of Eamon entry. It is presently in alpha and The Beginner's Cave is the only adventure thus far ported but it looks to be a lot of fun, as well as a good way to introduce folks to the joy of Eamon from any web browser.

But there's more... Jeter has also put together a Windows-based GUI dedicated to editing Eamon Deluxe databases, the EDX Adventure Database Editor. For aspiring Eamon authors with a Windows machine, this software appears to make the editing of an Eamon Deluxe adventure a smoother process.

With that being said, I'll remind readers of the blog that the deadline for the Eamon Micro-Adventure Contest is fast approaching. With the EDX Adventurer Editor, there's really no excuse not to secure for yourself the eternal glory and esteem that comes with writing an Eamon adventure. So put together a few rooms and send them to us by June 1st at tfeamon[at] or eamondeluxe[at]

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Announcing the Wonderful Wiki of Eamon

Over the past year, the intrepid Huw Williams has worked tirelessly--though quietly--to lay the foundations for an extraordinarily comprehensive, online Eamon encyclopedia. Recently, this work has become open to the public.

The Wonderful Wiki of Eamon, which can be found at, is a wiki edited and curated by members of the extended Eamon community. Anyone can log in and begin lending a hand, whether it's by creating a page for an missing topic or by adding material on an existing one. Every area of the Eamon universe is touched on and what Huw has put together is nothing short of phenomenal.

As a great example of the potential of Huw's project, check out the page for The Lair of the Minotaur. Included are summaries of the plot, reviews, and a section detailing how its characters and geography relate to the larger Eamon universe. Even the original MAINPGM in BASIC has been included. While not all Eamon adventures have received this exhaustive a treatment, you're invited to pick your favorite Eamon adventure and assist in giving it the same treatment.

So head over to the Wonderful Wiki of Eamon, whether it's to check out the content or to contribute to the project.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Eamon Adventure Nominated for Interactive Fiction Award (and other news).

Our very own Thomas Ferguson has had his debut Eamon adventure, A Runcible Cargo, nominated for the XYZZY IF Games award(s). If you haven't played Runcible, you should. And if you have a spare moment, you can show your support by voting for it at the XYZZY Awards page. Voting ends on April 15th.

A Runcible Cargo is included with the Eamon Deluxe 5.0 package and also available in a stand alone format for Windows users.

In other Eamon news...

Work is nearly finished on an old French Eamon that was unearthed (as a very damaged Apple II disk image) last fall. Originally a version 6 Eamon, "Le H.L.M. Maudit" (or "Tenement of the Damned") has been translated into English, converted to Eamon Deluxe, and is now being backported (as a version 7 style Eamon) to a new Apple II disk image. The salvaged adventure is a short, but well executed (and rather humorous), hack'n'slash romp that was recently reviewed in the March 2013 Eamon Deluxe Newsletter. Both the Eamon Deluxe version and the Apple II disk image backport will offer the option of being played in either English or French.

A new adventure is currently being tested and debugged: Eamon Deluxe #25 - The Treachery of Zorag by Derek C. Jeter includes active monsters that players can talk to, ask questions of, and otherwise interact with on a much more advanced level than that found in standard adventures. Among other special features, it also has a very large map which includes over three hundred rooms that cover multiple different settings and types of terrain. Derek is the very skilled Eamon author who's debut adventure, "Stronghold of Kahr-Dur", was released to favorable reviews last fall and "The Treachery of Zorag" is going to be one that Eamon fans will not want to miss. Its predicted public release date is late April or early May of 2013.

It has come to my attention that the "plain text" editions of the Eamon Deluxe Newsletter are not easily readable on non-Windows computers, nor can they be displayed without plugin workarounds on any web browser except Internet Explorer. With the release of Eamon Deluxe 5.0, a primary focus of modern Eamon development is accessibility. This means that new material should designed for cross platform flexibility and 100% compatible with the screen reading software used by vision impaired fans. The plain text newsletter editions, which are currently available as Rich Text Format documents, are soon going to be replaced with simple HTML versions.

Likewise, this blog itself has been reported to have compatibility issues with screen readers and, among other problems, doesn't allow vision impaired readers to post comments. Currently I'm considering the option of re-posting all blogs on a more compatible mirror site, but if anyone has an easier solution or any suggestions as to possible workarounds for this problem please contact me. In the meantime, vision impaired users can email their comments to either Matt Clark (eamonag [at], Thomas Ferguson (tfeamon [at], or myself (eamondeluxe [at] for posting.

Two previously unavailable newsletters have been added to the Guild archive page. Both originally published in 1987, the new additions to the archive include a newsletter by Kent Sullivan regarding the C64 Eamon cousin, Imagery! and a loosely written publication describing an Atari ST port of the original Eamon system.

There is quite a bit more Eamon-related material currently in development or awaiting final polish. Among the copious collection lingering about the Guild workspace like a mimic in the Beginners Cave: a set of working, fully playable Apple II disk images containing the short lived "Eamon Pro" system; updates to the Guild's classic Eamon disk image library which will once again be bootable (via emulator) and patched with fixes from the EAG's list of known bugs/issues; new additions to the Eamon Deluxe adventure pack, "The Lost Treasures of Eamon", which include "Beneath Mount Imagery" (converted from the C64 Imagery! system) and "Crypt Crashers-- The Tomb of Horrors" (from an excellent Atari ST Eamon port); additional Eamon Deluxe adventure packs updated and made available for the new 5.0 system, including "The Donald Brown Adventures", "The Roger Pender Adventures", "The Robert Parker Adventures" and "Classic Eamon Adventures Volume One"; and... many more items of interest to Eamon fans.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Trifecta of Eamon News

Three things which will surely interest readers of the blog:

  1. Bill Martens' website put up a post yesterday detailing a completely painless way to play Apple II Eamon online---no emulators, no hassle. Frank Black's Eamon hard drive has been adapted at the Virtual Apple ][ and it runs a host of ProDos Eamons flawlessly. To try it out, go to
  2. Chester Bolingbroke has written a piece detailing Eamon in his awesome blog, The CRPG Addict. The blog is fascinating and well-written and features a very lively (and equally fascinating) comments section. The relevant post can be read at
  3. The March 2013 issue of the Eamon Deluxe Newsletter has been posted, filled with all sorts of reviews and articles. The .rtf version has been produced and will be posted alongside the .pdf version soon. 
The Eamon Deluxe Newsletter, by the way, isn't necessarily devoted to merely Eamon Deluxe. All platforms, past and present, of Eamon are dealt with and represented. (Indeed, in the present issue, we feature reviews of adventures and systems for the Commodore 64, Apple II, Atari ST, and Eamon Deluxe!) We also welcome any contributions you may have, whether they be letters, comments, reviews, articles, or otherwise.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Catching up

Finally tackling some of my Eamon to-do list...

I've added two reviews to the website that Thomas Ferguson sent me way back in January of 2011... Yes, over two years later, although in my defense, I was just starting my MBA back then. Anyway, mosey on over to to read his reviews of Eamon #253 The Prism of Shadows by Wade Clarke and James Anderson and Eamon #254 Dawn of the Warlock by Wade Clarke.

Uploaded a fixed version of #144 Gartin Manor that Wade Clarke sent me back in December of 2011.

Posted the review from, only two years later.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Review from a new Eamon fan

Bad Matthew. sent me this post for the blog in January of 2012 and I meant to publish it much earlier. I'm only now sorting through my old emails and found it. Sorry for the delay! 
A new Eamon fan.
For many people, Eamon will be a matter of nostalgia, something they played 20 years ago.

For myself however, my acquaintance with Eamon actually began in 2008.
Indeed, while I found some great if titles (Worlds apart, Pytho's mask and Babel to name a few), it seemed that four out of five games I tried I'd find myself running around getting frustrated as I’m told something like "I don't know how to put" or "you can't use that."

Right from the age of about three, I've been interested in computer games, however  being visually impaired game access is, of course, an issue. Using screen reading software, most standard text in windows will be quite readable. Thus games like interactive fiction, muds and browser based mmorps are quite playable or can be made so with a little adaptation.(Audio only computer games that output exclusively in sound also exist, for more information please visit
What has always been of interest to me most in games is exploration, being able to wander around an unknown area, become truly immersed in the setting, become part of an epic story, or at the very least get to explore a new environment different from everyday life. So when I first got to university in about 2002 and found games that used text that I could play on my PC, I went on something of a spree, trying out everything I could.
The problem was that I quickly found each type of game had it's limitations.
Browser based mmorps tended to work very much on a competitive basis, focused almost exclusively on bettering your characters stats in order to compete with other players, ---- indeed many were heavily focused upon player vs player combat. This wouldn't be so bad in itself, accept that in the vast majority of games it seemed that little or no effort had been spent on the setting or the description, and most of the game actions would boil down to hitting the explore button until you found a monster (often just defined as a single name), then hitting attack until the monster's hp got to zero.

Even those few games such as legend of the green dragon that employed some questing often worked on a hit a button until you get a result sort of basis, with little actual exploring to be done and often very repetitive game play.

Then there was interactive fiction, which certainly had lots of wandering around and reading descriptions, not to mention plot and objectives. However since most if games used puzzles as their primary method of moving the game along, and since most had a very large parser (subject to program limitations), guessing the solutions to puzzles, or indeed guessing how the game wanted you to write solutions could be quite frustrating.
Also, combat in interactive fiction games was at a minimum, and it was always a little disappointing to realize that you couldn't actually pull out a sword and have at it with the evil troll or reduce the robots into scrap, since while certainly not all problems can be solved with violence, it does make for a good dramatic confrontation, or a way to give you a nice high tension break in the middle of mapping a maze or thinking out a riddle.

So, it seemed text rpgs fell between too stools. Either it was if, had ridiculous puzzles and zero combat, or it was a browser based mmorp, with repetitive grinding and little or no description or exploration. The Eamon system however offers a really nice compromise. Enough combat mechanics to allow confrontation, and enough of a parser to allow puzzles though not so broad as to be ridiculous.

I'd heard about Eamon on various if sites along with some of the few other text rpgs (usually old dos ones), available like Fallthru or Westfront, but since a screen reader can't interact with emulated text due to lack of the windows graphic toolkit, I'd given up hope of trying it. That was until in 2008 I ran across Eamon deluxe, which obviously ran in a dos style environment and thus had readable text.
Yes, in some ways the system was slightly archaic, for instance I couldn't use x for examine as in most if games, and some of the behavior of the parser was a little clunky, and I sometimes missed being able to get further information by examining monsters or items. Yet despite these problems, despite being twenty years old the thing still worked! The mimic was still a surprise, treasures were still fun to get, it was fun to use spells and it was great to gather allies and see them fight on my side.

As I tried several of the earlier adventures in Eamon Deluxe, I also realized something else about Eamon which probably makes more difference today than it did back in the 80's and 90's.
Eamon does not take itself seriously!
Even adventures with a serious theme where you are saving the world, rescuing some doomed individual or confronting diabolical evil have a rather easy going attitude. Demons are clobberable, treasures can be sold for cash and good will pretty much always win.
Though pretty obvious in the time it was created, today, with every hero being a gruff  angst ridden scumbag, and every villain having some sort of tragic past, the old fashioned values of heroes who slaughter their way confidently through hoards of nasties, and evil overlords simply reeking of the essence of badness is just down right refreshing!

Even the mild sexism in the form of the many rescued damsels doesn't come across as over the top (particularly because quite often in the Eamon system, the damsels can grab up a weapon once rescued and start smacking away).

The only problem of course was that the initial Eamon Deluxe was not perfect. It took some wangling to run successfully, indeed some visually impaired people wouldn't try it for this reason, had one or two bugs and didn't contain all of the adventures (I was sorry that Sam Ruby's were missing since from the reviews those sounded awesome).

However now Frank and Eamon deluxe are back many of these problems are being fixed, and more Eamons will be playable, which is good news all around, Perhaps even some new adventures will be written just for Eamon deluxe.
Despite those in the IF community that criticize, I am certain Eamon very much has it's place today, since it fits a role that few other games do, that of an exploration rpg which can manage combat or puzzles, plus many of the classic games have quite a different take on fantasy than we see in fashion currently.

For these reasons, I very much hope Eamon deluxe will help bring in some new players to Eamon just as it did with me, since in a lot of ways it is unique, and the fact that it persisted for so long and so many games shows that even if not the most modern system, it still has a lot to offer. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Eamon Micro-Adventure Contest

The March 2013 Newsletter has been completed and will be posted soon. In the meantime, enjoy another preview of its contents: an Eamon micro-adventure writing contest!

If you've read through the old NEUC and EAG newsletters, you've undoubtedly run across one of the contests held years ago. (This is why there are about a billion Eamons mentioning a "Life Orb.") They tended to produce some pretty solid adventures. Of course, actually sitting down to write an Eamon is a pretty daunting task. While it's certainly a lot of fun, to write an entire adventure requires some investment of time. So here's the compromise:

Consider a large Eamon dungeon in the shape of a tower. The challenge is to write in approximately ten rooms a miniature dungeon making up one floor of the tower using either Apple II Eamon or Eamon Deluxe. You can add monsters, treasures, secret doors, and weapons... whatever your mind can generate, so be it. Frank and I will string them together into a (dis)continuous whole and judge on the basis of pure awesomeness.

The winner will receive a plaque on the glorious Wall of Fame (in Frank Black's Waiting Room micro-adventure) to be memorialized for all eternity. (We'll throw in a free subscription to the newsletter as well.)

You, reader, are afforded the opportunity to make your mark on the Wonderful World of Eamon without taking three months of spare time to do so. Grab a few beers and a pencil, fire up the Adventure Designer, and in an evening you too can be part of Eamon history.

Here are the rules:
  1. The target is around ten rooms. If you want to dip your toes in, we'll accept fewer. If you're an old hat, we'll accept more.
  2. Dungeons must include a staircase leading up and a staircase leading down at some point in the dungeon so that we can weave the entries together.
  3. No special programming. Frank has equipped Eamon Deluxe with enough built-in functionality that you can produce a number of effects without hassle.
  4. If you want to go all House of Ill Repute on us... well, please don't. A few salty allusions are one thing but bear in mind that there may be children writing entries. For some reason, I'd feel awkward leaving Sesame Street and climbing the stairs to Return to the Cat House
  5. Submissions must be written in either Eamon 7.x or 8.x for the Apple II or Eamon Deluxe 5.0 for other platforms.
  6. As a special feature, entering a value of 1 in the User #1 value of a monster will ensure both that the monster's friendliness doesn't change and that the monster is invincible.
And that's all. If you want to keep in a medieval motif, feel free. If you want to go all high-tech, feel free. If you want to recreate your local Starbucks Coffee, replete with that cute barista who hooks you up with free mochachinos, go ahead (just bear Rule 4 in mind).

If you would like to participate but want assistance, you can write me at tfeamon [at] or Frank at eamondeluxe [at] We'll be glad to help.

Submissions may be sent as disk images (for Apple II entries) or compressed folders (for EDX entries) to the above addresses by June 1st, 2013 to be considered. While the competition has closed, we still welcome any additional contributions while the entries are combined. 

Monday, March 04, 2013

Eamon Deluxe 5.0 for vision impaired Linux users.

As DOSBox doesn't actually output "text" screens (rather it draws a flawless picture of what the text screen would look like), it is currently not compatible with screen readers. I've talked to the creator of DOSBox and am confident that, given the time and energy, I can create a custom build that solves this problem.

In the meantime, there is an alternate way for vision impaired players to run the Linux version of Eamon Deluxe 5.0. I suspected this method was possible but didn't get a chance to test it before public release. Thanks to Trenton Matthews for forwarding the following instructions which he found on the Audio Games forums:

"The following is from a user on the forums, who goes by the name of "fastfinge". It is a set of instructions on how to play Eamon Deluxe on Debian-based distros of Linux (including Ubuntu).

First, log in to your Linux system via SSH. If you are running on a server (like Linode) the way I am, you already have to do it this way. If you are running Linux on your local computer or on VMWare with Gnome, you will need to set up SSHD and log in to your system with SSH; if you do not do this, the DOS emulator will try to start up XWindows, and nothing will be accessible.

Once logged in via SSH and in your home directory you can install and play Eamon Deluxe:

1.  wget
2.  unzip

If this command gives you an error, use "sudo apt-get install unzip" and then try the command again.

3.  sudo apt-get install dosemu

This will ask if you want to install a bunch of stuff. Say yes.

Once Eamon Deluxe and DOSEmu have been installed, you can skip to step 4 whenever you want to run Eamon Deluxe:

4.  dosemu

This command will give you some errors. Just press enter until they go away, and you get a c: prompt.

5.  D:
6.  cd Eamon_Deluxe_50_Beta4-X
7.  cd edx
8.  cd C

At this point, you should now be running Eamon Deluxe! You'll get some first-run information that you need to press enter to bypass. When asked if you want VI mode, be sure to press Y and then X.

This is as far as I've gone, and I've never played these adventures before under DOS or anywhere else, but it does seem to be working. I'm off to spend my entire evening adventuring! Best of luck, everyone."

Saturday, February 02, 2013

The problem with the RPG element

So, just some musings to pass the time until the next version of Eamon Deluxe is released...

The problem with the RPG element

I've often compared Eamon to a nascent version of the interactive fiction community with an RPG twist. That RPG twist made Eamon somewhat interesting, but lets face it, it also made it something of a pain as well. Here you are playing along with a well cultivated adventurer when *BAM*. You get killed by a sudden death trap. *BAM*. You lose a battle to some suped up boss monster (here's looking at you Guardian from Tomb of Molinar). Your character dies, and you have to start over from the beginning. Except you don't. You have three options. 1) Start over from scratch, Burly Irishman, Beginners Cave, Trollsfire, etc.; 2) Restore your character off the main hall and try again, or 3) Just simply use the plain vanilla approach of Fresh Sam to play your adventures. Thus, you either get to continuously rebuild your character over and over (if you're playing the honest way), play with the character you want (with subsequent restorations), or play a generic Fresh Sam. None of these are truly satisfying.

My point is that here we have one of the few things that distinguishes Eamon from the rest of the Interactive Fiction genre, yet actually utilizing the RPG features is tedious. Even Tom Zuchowski stated back in the March 1997 newsletter "Use the FRESH SAM program to play Eamon and don't use the Main Hall at all. That's what I have done for 10 years." But I don't give a damn about Sam. He gets killed a million times. He breaks his favorite sword. He drinks a potion and loses all of his charisma and agility. Doesn't matter.

How to fix this? Sam Ruby figured this out and wrote at least two adventures (Elemental Apocalypse and Boy and the Bard) where he provides the character to the player. The primary advantage of this is that it makes it much easier to balance the play to the player. You don't get some guy waltzing through with 1000 hd points and a 500x4342 sword, slaughtering everything in sight. Instead, you have a consistent approach to how things will be handled. The designer knows that to expect and can probably produce better programs for it.

But once you go down that path, how different is this from other interactive fiction? The player in Infocom's Planetfall is also the same every single time you play. While that player ultimately "advances" to Stationfall, he doesn't carry over the RPG experience. To compare this to Eamon, you're only going to be walking around The Shopping Mall with Trollsfire if you've actually generated a character and gone through the Beginner's Cave. Fresh Sam addicts don't get that choice.

The other option (and one that should be included if possible) is to just allow the player to start that game over without having them go back to the Main Hall. While this fixes some of the RPG element, the designer is still left with some of the game play balance issues.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you like the RPG element, or are you quite frankly annoyed with it? Do you still use the Main Hall? Fresh Sam? Have you modified your Fresh Sam to the characteristics that you would prefer? What approaches do you think would work best from a game design prospective? I'm interested to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Congratulations to our very own Frank Black, designer of the Eamon Deluxe system, on his recent engagement. How exciting!